Olympus XA2 Wins Top Industry Design Award

The Olympus XA2 was honored with the top award in the 1981 Good Design Mark Competition sponsored by the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Association. The Grand Prix Design Award was given to the XA2 after careful evaluation by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

Of 2,791 entries, 650 received honorable mention. The Olympus XA2 was selected as the single item most representative of the ultimate level of precision technology in Japan.

Of these consumer goods, a design award was presented to the best product in each of the seven categories. Further, of the products that received design awards, the Grand Prix was given to the single best product overall.

Good Design Awards are sponsored by the Japan Industry Design Association, with winning products selected by Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Further, winning products are labeled with a standardized "G-mark" to indicate their advanced design and to make them easily recognizable to consumers.


Olympus Photo Workshop Scheduled for Spring Introduction in U.S.

The Olympus Photographic Workshop, an Olympus program established to provide "hands on" photography instruction, is scheduled for official introduction in the United States during the spring of 1982 according to the Olympus Camera Corporation. Designed for beginners, advanced and professional photographers alike, its purpose is to increase awareness of the photographic industry.

A variety of techniques are employed in the workshop to effectively cover all levels of learning. The techniques, all of which stress active audience participation, include live equipment demonstrations as well as slide and video presentations.

The amateur segment of the program is divided into three sessions including " You and Your 35mm Camera", "Advanced Photographic Techniques" and "Dialogue." Each Workshop course is oriented toward a specific degree of understanding. "Dialogue" is a question and answer session open to all for individual problem solving. For the professional photographer, the Workshop offers comprehensive study in the fields of macrophotography, studio photography and photojournalism.

The Olympus Photographic Workshop will be promoted through local newspaper advertising, point of purchase displays, direct mail promotion and the active involvement of Olympus camera dealers.

Workshop materials are prepared under the direction of Pasquale Ferazzoli, Director of Product Development, and David Willard, Director of Market Development.

An introductory exhibition of the Olympus Photographic Workshop was held during the fall of 1981 in Connecticut and Ohio. The program drew an enthusiastic response from both amateur and professional groups, which measured the validity of Olympus planning.


XA1 set for world markets in May
Newest Addition to Olympus 'Capsule Camera' Series Unveiled

The New Olympus XA1, the latest addition to the 35mm 'capsule camera' series, will reach markets throughout the world in May, and is expected to enjoy brisk sales.

The market for compact cameras has shown remarkable growth in recent years. A survey conducted by the Japan Camera Industry Association shows that compact camera exports in 1989 totaled about 3.5 million units - a 25% increase over the 1979 total. However, since the number of cameras per household is considered relatively low in overseas markets, sales are expected to grow even more in the future.

The XA series of Olympus cameras are known for offering state-of-art electronics along with precision optical design. The new XA1 conforms to the design of the XA and XA2, winner of the Japan Industrial Good Design Grand Prix Award in 1981. It features energy-saving solar-powered circuitry and focus-free operation, as well as a cut in weight and a number of design innovations.

The XA1 is expected to be particularly appealing to people who show a marginal interest in photography. As such, it is positioned as the kind of camera that people can carry around with them, snapping pictures whenever they like, unlike a bulky, more complicated 35mm camera. It is also expected to attract current users of 110-type cameras, as it is also priced to compete with these at the high end.

The design of the XA1 reflects this thinking. It is remarkably simple to use. Focusing is not needed. Exposure settings are automatic. Protruding parts have been minimized and edges rounded so that it slips easily into a pocket, with a dust barrier protecting the optical parts when not in use. It measures 10.4cmX6.5cmX4cm (4.1"X2.6"X1.6"), and weighs only 190grams (6.7 ounces).

With the addition of the XA1, the Olympus 'capsule camera' series now numbers three. The two other cameras in the series are the XA, which permits the photographer creative control when photographing, and the XA2, which features more electronic mechanisms.


The Olympus XA: A Hot Idea Whose Time Has Come

Most revolutionary products spring from a great idea, a spark of inspiration in an inventive mind.

This is true in the case of the Olympus XA 35mm capsule camera series. But it's not the whole story behind its development.

The man behind the Olympus XA is Yoshihisa Maitani, now the manager of the Olympus Optical Co., Ltd.'s camera research and development department. Very early on, Maitani concluded that the ideal camera would be no camera at all. Wouldn't it be wonderful, he thought, if man could record pictures anytime he wanted without having to carry around any kind of photographic device?

In reality, of course, he recognized that this was impossible. But it was possible to come as close to the ideal as possible by designing a camera that's as small and unobtrusive as possible - yet still capable of producing superb 35mm quality photographs.

The need for such a camera was further driven home to him one night in Tokyo. A naked truck driver, racing from a public bath house after hearing that his truck was on fire, proved to Maitani that once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities come along when you least expect them. Had he a camera with him, he could have captured the drama, and the humor of it all, on film.

Today, Maitani, and the world, has a camera that's compact enough to carry in a pocket. A camera that's always at hand, ready to capture events as they happen with 35mm quality. You know it as the Olympus XA.

The XA didn't come together overnight. There were problems to be overcome which at times seemed insurmountable.

For example, Maitani wanted to do away with the need for a lens cap and case for the camera. This led to the development of a unique sliding Dust Barrier, which served both purposes.

He also sought to achieve an elliptical shape for the camera, to make it both pleasing to the eye and convenient to carry. Existing mold technology couldn't deliver a smooth, rounded shape, so a revolutionary single-mold was developed.

The desired thickness for the XA was 40mm, but this too proved difficult to achieve. The 8.6mm height of the Dust Barrier was ideal in terms of slim design, but the first lens developed for the camera was 5mm too high to fit underneath it. Another lens was then developed, and this one would fit but it was only a 31.8mm wide angle lens rather than the desired 35mm. Eventually, Olympus achieved an innovative telephoto-type wide angle 35mm lens which filled all of the requirements.

A new electronic shutter mechanism was also in order. Due to the XA's light weight and compact size, a conventional shutter could cause the camera to move when it was pressed, particularly in the hands of an amateur photographer. Thus, the XA series cameras are equipped with a touch-sensitive shutter.

All of the problems were gradually overcome, and the XA and XA2 models made their way onto the market and into the hands of more than one million users during the first two years of sales. And future sales are expected to be even more dramatic as the XA series features become better known.

Quite clearly, the Olympus XA cameras represent the crystalization of the pursuit of an ideal on the part of Maitani and other Olympus designers who believed that the best camera should be as close as possible to no camera at all.

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31 July, 2003
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